GM accused of criminal cover-up, but government might be to blame too
It’s a recall heeded by GM drivers.
And as consumers have rushed to take care of the faulty ignition switch, which has been responsible for the death of at least 13 people, lawmakers on Capitol Hill accused General Motors of a potentially criminal cover-up.
They were angered by the lack of answers from its new CEO during a second day of hearings Wednesday into why GM waited a decade to recall cars with the deadly flaw.
It was a rough day for the new head of GM Mary Barra. She faced members of a Senate subcommittee over a defective ignition switch that’s blamed for 13 deaths.
The problem was that a heavy key ring could pull the switch back to the accessory position while the car was running, disabling the brakes, the steering, and the air bags.
The questions are: How did it happen? And who’s responsible?
“I can tell you for sure that GM watched it’s pennies far more than any other car company did,” explains John McElroy of Autoline.com.
McElroy points out that GM was headed for bankruptcy and was desperate to cut costs. But he says what happened at GM, and the failure of federal regulators to catch it, was inexcusable.
The engineers caught this problem right from the get-go – before the cars even ended up in the showroom, according to McElroy.
“Now the question is, why didn’t they fix it? Mary Barra admitted (Wednesday) that for 90 cents they could have fixed the switch, but it was not approved. Then, and this is where it really gets mysterious there was a design change, but no one seems to know about it,” says McElroy.
It indicates there was some awareness by the company, but nobody wanted that awareness to come to the point that the company would be forced to offer a huge recall.
And it seems like, the government in this case was not being strict enough.
“The government really missed this. It’s a puzzle as to why. They’re starting to say, ‘Well, we didn’t have the resources,’ but that just doesn’t jive with the facts, because we know that in other recalls involving far fewer problems where they did catch the problem,” he says.
If you’re wondering which cars are affected by the recall, they are: 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5; 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR; 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada); 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice; and 2007 Saturn Sky.
Full details on what to do if you own one of these vehicles is available at General Motors website.
MyNorthwest.com’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.